Going through a divorce can be a scary, stressful situation with many rapid lifestyle changes. However, even in the midst of the turmoil it is important to think about the consequences of divorce on your health insurance coverage. This is especially essential if there are children involved. Knowing how to keep medical coverage from lapsing is vital, as a devastating and costly accident, illness or injury could occur unexpectedly.
Group Health Insurance and Divorce
Frequently both spouses can be covered by one partner’s employer group health insurance policy. When the couple files for divorce the employed spouse must remove the other from the health plan. The employer needs to be informed of this change, usually by submitting a form for changes to the policy. The form will be forwarded to the insurance company where the appropriate changes will be made. The now-uninsured spouse is guaranteed by the COBRA act to be allowed access to up to 36 months of short term coverage.
Individual Health Policies and Divorce
In some ways individual health insurance plans function similarly to group plans in the event of a divorce. After the divorce has been finalized the insurance company must be notified. They will terminate the shared insurance policy and both spouses must either re-enroll or purchase coverage from a different company. Should both spouses decide to keep using the same company, two separate insurance policies will be issued after finalization of the process. COBRA does not govern any individual health insurance policies.
Children’s Health Insurance in Divorce
Group insurance plans are typically used to give health coverage for children, but individual policies are used as well. Children may be covered by either spouse’s insurance company, or both. Many of these are not national coverage providers so the issue of children’s insurance can become complicated. If the children are covered by one spouse’s policy, and the spouse with primary custody moves them away from the designated service jurisdiction, the children’s coverage may be restricted to emergency medical treatment only.
Double Coverage for Children
Individual insurance policies can get very costly so both spouses naming the children as dependents is not a good idea. It is important to note that any changes to the benefits or limitations of coverage will be sent to the policy-holding spouse even if the other spouse is the one with the primary custody. If it is possible the spouses should work together on the issue of the children’s insurance, deciding which plan will best benefit them. If this is not possible a judge will ensure that the spouse with primary custody gets the necessary paperwork.
Divorces are, by their very nature, unpleasant circumstances for all parties involved. Besides being emotionally trying divorce causes real physical issues in a family’s daily life, including health insurance. Divorced people have various options and strategies for insuring their now-separated family while not compromising the care for anyone.